Dealing with the Night
(A Lost Night Girl Scene)


It might not look it, but the version of The Night Girl that REUTS Publications will be publishing in Winter 2018-19 is actually the second major rewrite of the story. Don't get me wrong: the book was probably rewritten dozens of times, but those were minor and major revisions that built on the underlying structure of the book. The bulk of The Night Girl was written and honed between 2003 and 2009 and shopped around for a couple of years before I gave up and wondered if the book was a failure. In 2013, at the behest of my agent who had finished helping me rework Icarus Down for publication, I embarked on a bottom-up rethink and rewrite of the story, adding a major antagonist and expanding the word count from 69,000 to over 90,000.

In between was a two year period where J.M. Frey got ahold of a copy of the story and gave it a serious editorial going over. Her advice was very good, and it led to its own rewrite of the story. She focused on the relationship between the characters Perpetua and Fergus, targetting the earlier critique that their romance seemed forced. She agreed, but disagreed with the earlier editor's suggestion that the romance be dropped altogether. Instead, it needed to be developed. In her words:

I feel like we're missing half the story. We see a lot of Perpetua at work, which is the central theme of the book, but equally important to the outcome of the plot is her relationship with Fergus. And that isn't given equal screen time.

So, when she yells that he's her boyfriend, my thought was, "Is he? You've only kissed him once." I would like to see them exhausted, sacked on her sofa after both their shifts. I want to see them on Saturdays when she is bored and playing with Pixel and he has to study. I want to go with them to the Ex, where they get those photo booth pictures taken. I want to see them have a spat and make up on the streetcar. And I want to see the goblins watching them as they do it. It is Perpetua's relationship with Fergus is the driving force for the goblins coming out, and as such I need to be as invested in it as the reader as I am in Perpetua's job. (And I feel like your word count is low enough that you can wiggle a few more chapters in there without having to worry that the book is too long for the age range).

This directly led to the scene quoted below and more like it, as we got to see more of Perpetua and Fergus at play. They did actually go to the Ex, and have a spat and make up. The advice helped a lot, I think, but I don't think I took the story far enough, which is why I ended up embarking on a second bottom-up rewrite just two years later. While I was fixing the (real? Perhaps maybe 'other'?) main problem of the story -- which involved dropping one antagonist (human) and replacing him with another (faerie), and restructuring the hidden society accordingly -- I wrote with an eye to Perpetua and Fergus' relationship, trying to develop it within the framework of the plot rather than with scenes that were a bit on the outside of the plot. And I hope I've succeeded. But as a result, a few scenes that I liked in the second major draft did not make it to the third, and I've included one below.

Here, we see Perpetua dealing with the harsh realities of the night shift, and Fergus helping her along. As you can well imagine, Perpetua is not a person who likes waking up early...

In her bedroom, Perpetua laid face first on her bed, her snores muffled by her pillow. Pixel curled up beside her. The sunlight against the window set the curtains aglow. Outside, the city growled. Beneath her, the ground rumbled with a passing subway, sending the water in her bedside glass rippling and the glasses tinkling in her kitchen cabinets.

The phone rang. The machine clicked to answer it, but the line went dead. A moment later, the phone rang again. Again, the machine clicked to answer it, but the line went dead. The phone rang a third time.

Perpetua reached from her bed and patted at her bedside table, knocking over a book and a glass before finding the phone and pulling the receiver to her ear. Her voice croaked. "Okay, whoever this is, you are about to incur my wrath."

The voice at the other end was infuriatingly chipper. "Hey, Tua? You up yet?"

"Fergus? Why are you incurring my wrath?"

"It's two in the afternoon," he said. "This is your wake-up call."

"Fergus! It's Saturday! I don't have to go to work on Saturday!"

"Trust me," he said. He could hear her grinning. It grated on her ears. "It's important that you wake up, right now."

"You are so dead! You and all chipper people like you!"

"You'd have to wake up in order to find me first."

"Fergus, I've been graded for papers I don't remember turning in. There's no telling what I can do with any handy sharp object, and did you know that sleepwalking is a valid defence in court?"

"Seriously, though," he said, and he sounded it. "When did you fall into bed? Six a.m.? Six-thirty?"


"And when did you actually get to sleep?"

Perpetua kept a mutinous silence.


She said nothing.


"Fergus, what do you want with me?" she howled.

"To help you wake up. Look, I'm coming over."

"If you come here, you'll only make it easier for me to kill you."

"And I'm bringing coffee."

She paused. "Okay. You get to live. Provisionally."

"Be right there."

"Fine," she mumbled. And she let the phone drop onto the floor.

She blinked, and fifteen minutes passed. Someone was knocking on the door.

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